Mr. Basil Manuel, President of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA), commenting on the results of the 2014 ANA, commended the Department of Basic Education (DBE) for accomplishing a seemingly faultless ANA in respect of logistics. The administration of the ANA was a huge undertaking considering that the ANA was written by approximately 7 million learners from Grades 1-9 at both public and subsidised private schools. Educators, school managers, and Departmental officials must be complimented on the accomplishment of such a mammoth task.

NAPTOSA noted that the DBE interventions in Numeracy and Literacy had resulted in improved learner performance in some grades. NAPTOSA believes that focused interventions on content knowledge and skills, both in Numeracy and Literacy, is needed in the Foundation Phase to ensure a strong basis for mathematics in the higher grades. While acknowledging all interventions, NAPTOSA notes with concern the pressure put on schools by Provincial Education Departments to perform, as the ANA, seemingly, has become a school performance rating tool for District offices. “This, clearly, was NOT the purpose of the ANA”, said Mr Manuel.

There is a phenomenon developing in schools referred to as “ANArisation”, meaning that the curriculum ceases to be taught and the focus is on preparing learners to write the ANA by dedicating days of the week for such training, e.g.  “ANA Fridays”. One province went so far as instructing schools to focus only on Mathematics and Language for two weeks prior to the ANA. This was stopped following intervention by NAPTOSA.

NAPTOSA acknowledges the increase in performance in Numeracy and Literacy/Language across the grades. “The poor result of eleven (11%) percent in Mathematics in Grades 9 is of concern to NAPTOSA, there is clearly something amiss in the Senior Phase”, said Mr Manuel. NAPTOSA questioned whether there were planned interventions to assist these learners in the FET Phase.

“NAPTOSA  is of the view that despite the poor results in some grades, there will be much to be gained from the 2014 ANA results, provided that it will be used to inform teacher development (broadly) and specific interventions that may be needed in specific schools and/or districts to improve literacy and numeracy”, said Mr. Manuel.

Mr Manuel stated that it is not the writing of the ANA tests that will make a difference. “The tests themselves do not improve learners’ performance. It is the analysis of the results, the planning of focused interventions and ongoing support that will eventually bear fruit”, said Mr. Manuel. The ANAs are clearly not about “passing” or “failing” learners. It is about “passing” or “failing” the System. “Time will tell whether the system-wide ANA will achieve its goals”, said Mr. Manuel.